To be honest, I've no idea where this kind of run came from. I had very little confidence going into it given how hard I suffered at 70 miles of Teanaway this summer (race was cancelled mid race) and how my training/running/mindset had been since. As this is the last big year of racing and running, I wanted to give this a go. From the beginning I think I was just so locked in mentally. Having your mileage splits in mind really helped. Simply keeping a 5mph average pace is akin to the "50mi a day" on the overall AT, right? :) Additionally, knowing your 70 mile split was the same as my time at The Ring with comparable terrain and climbing was key.
I ran northbound simply because I live in DC and didn't want to do the bulk of the driving at the end. Also, I suppose finishing on the section I know best was good. I met my brother crewing me after 10 miles and then really every 3-5mi. We swapped bottles and I picked up a couple things minimizing that stoppage time. I missed the crossing just before Big Meadows and it took a good 10-15min of my idiot self running up and down some country road before realizing, it was deep into the field by some cemetery. Once I got to Hawsbill, the sun was coming up and I knew I'd be familiar with most of the miles I had left. However, by this point I was having difficulty putting down any calories. I couldn't do most of my gels, couldn't really chew much, nothing looked appetizing. By the time I got to Pinnacles, the bonking was real. I pushed down to Thornton Gap and had to sit down and force down a bunch of calories.
Starting up slowly again, I hiked a lot and finally was able to jog a little for 3 miles. I knew I was close to the section between Jeremy's Run and Elkwallow, a section that rolls but has beautiful buffed out single track. I hit Elkwallow pretty early (missed seeing my wife!), fueled up and headed out. At this point, I literally could do soda, some chips and Roctane. I got some conflicting mileage numbers from my crew from here on out thinking it was shorter than it was so I had sub 23 in my mind. But, I didn't realize some of the climbs before Compton were legit and I threw that number out of my head knowing that the final 5 miles were absolutely miserable terrain and I didn't want to have to push it too hard. I got to Compton with 1:40 to go and knew it was realistic. Finishing on that long downhill field was (not) a delight but it was great to be done. The final several hours I was so exhausted and tired I felt like if I stopped I'd collapse and sleep right on the trail.
Overall, it was a good day. I ran so much more than I expected, still able to jog some of the uphills in the latter quarter was not what I expected. Having the "ultra jog" mentality in the back of your head, that you can still put in a modest, above hiking pace at any point was good. Nutrition was a disaster but I was able to stick it out; certainly something to work on better for future hundreds.
This was a fantastic route in an iconic park on an iconic trail. I hope John or myself have inspired others to come out here. The crewability almost can't be beat for an actual trail route. My only critique are those 5mi from Compton to 522. Damn are they awful! :p